AJ Shah is making some new friends this week.
With Friday's Mega Millions jackpot now at a staggering $540 million, the owner of is seeing some unfamiliar faces as customers line up for a chance to win.
“We always have the regulars come back in but this drawing I’m seeing people that I’ve never seen before in 20 years,” said Shah, who has run the shop on Lakeland Avenue for 22 years.
Barbara Ellison works next to Neil’s Cards & Gifts at Parkville Plaza Deli and came by on a break Thursday to pick up her lotto tickets. Ellison has been playing the lotto for more than 10 years and plays the same numbers twice a day, every day until it hits before she chooses new numbers to play.
“I usually play birthdays as numbers," Ellison said. "Once in a while I’ll have a hunch and so I’ll try that or I’ll just do a quick pick if I don’t know what to do."
Payal Joshi has been working at her brother’s store, on North Main Street, for several years.
“This is a lucky store. We’ve had quite a few winners here in the past and hopefully we will have another one this week. It’s only a dollar for some luck,” Joshi said.
Michael Cecere, a Patchogue resident, stopped by the Sayville store to purchase $150 worth of quick pick tickets for himself and a group of friends. Cecere laughed when asked what he would plan on doing with the money stating that he hadn’t thought about it yet.
“I’m playing to see if maybe I can change their luck a little bit. I’ve played before but because the jackpot is so high I’m buying a few tickets this time,” said George Fitzpatrick who was playing the lotto for his family.
Sayville resident and school employee, Sue, refused to give her last name for fear of jinxing herself. She plays often but was also purchasing more tickets because of the larger jackpot.
“If I won, I’d give some of the money to teachers in my school since they’re such great people. I’d also give a lot to my church and I would be able to fund my children’s college education. After that... I don’t know what I would do,” Sue said.
employee Deval Patel has been watching lottery hopefuls come into the store all week.
“Since this started, we’ve not only been getting the regular customers but also 100 or 200 more people coming in to play,” said Patel. “I only play when the lotto is this high too.”
Centereach resident Dorothy Edsell works near the Blue Point Cards and Gifts and plays the lottery whenever she feels lucky. Edsell usually plays the same group of numbers, based on birthdays, anniversaries and ages. She didn’t hesitate when asked what she would do if she won.
“I’d share it with my family and spread it out to a few friends who need it,” Edsell said.
The $540 mullion jackpot is the largest in the history of the multi-state game. The odds of winning the jackpot on a $1 ticket: 1 in 176 million.